So You Wanna Be an Animation Executive?

by Cori Stern

Hey boys and girls, have you always dreamed of a career in the glamorous world of animation development but you just don't know if you have what it takes? It's not as hard as you might think! Here's a simple test to help you determine if you belong in the high-powered world of cartoon creation:

1. It's your first day on the job! Do you...
a) Arrive early, read the trades, and prepare for the rest of the day?

b) Schedule a power lunch with your colleagues to discuss the fall line-up?

c) Hang out in your office and take advantage of the free long distance by calling your seventh-grade algebra teacher to gloat over the fact that you're a big Hollywood executive now and who needed to know the value of X, anyway?

2. Office decor is oh-so-important to the rising young executive's image. One's choice of decorative garnishes says a lot about one's creativity. It's time to decorate your new office! Do you fill your office with...
a) Cool toys from various shows your company has produced?

b) Cool toys from various shows you've actually worked on?

c) Cool toys from various shows you want everyone to think you worked on?

3. You've just received the not-so-great results of the latest focus group testing your pet project. Do you...
a) Examine the data and redevelop your show accordingly?

b) Ask for further testing across a wider demographic sampling?

c) Decide that focus groups are a diabolical plot by the Evil Anti-Creativity Overlord to put an end to all that is smart and good, in order to hasten the inevitable downward spiral of the human race and ultimately reduce us to drooling, monosyllabic, knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers.

4. Your company has begun installing computer workstations and utilizing new digital tools. Do you...
a) Applaud the production department for their efforts to bring your company into the new age of technology?

b) Learn all you can about computer animation so that you can develop new cutting-edge properties?

c) Sneak into the studio after work to see if you can figure out how to animate that wacky photocopy of the Senior V.P.'s butt that you snagged after last year's office Christmas party?

5. It's Comic-Con time! Do you prepare by...
a) Making your hotel reservations early?

b) Buying a pair of comfortable shoes for walking the floor?

c) Packing your full Klingon warrior regalia costume and praying for a George Takei sighting?

6. At Comic-Con, you've spotted a property that could be the next Smurfs! Unfortunately, your arch rival at Deep Pockets Productions has also targeted your prize. Do you...
a) Take the creator out to dinner and convince him that you alone understand his masterpiece?

b) Pow-wow with your buddy at the network to try to secure an advance on-air commitment?

c) Slip your rival some "roofies" and spirit the creator off to Tijuana for some Cuervo with your business affairs office?

7. In your annual job review, your boss has suggested that you need to work on your ability to come up with merchandisable properties. Do you...
a) Scour anime expos for the next Power Rangers phenomenon?

b) Gather a group of hip Gen-X ad geniuses to brainstorm new and innovative product tie-ins?

c) Offer the God of Licensing a sacrifice of twenty camels, a vintage Chewbaca action figure, and your sister in return for a master toy license on your next series?

8. You're having dinner with your French co-producers to discuss a new series. Do you attempt to impress them with...
a) Your amazing command of the French language?

b) Your vast knowledge of fine wine?

c) Your thinly-veiled scorn for all cultural icons they hold dear?

9. It's the holiday season and you've got to buy gifts for all your hard-working staff artists and writers. Do you buy them...
a) Framed cels featuring characters from classic shows?

b) Rare toys featuring characters from classic shows?

c) Pez dispensers featuring characters from classic shows?

10. It's five o'clock and your thirty-seventh meeting of the day is in the conference room setting up an elaborate pitch involving feathered monkey hand puppets and an accordion orchestra. Do you...
a) Call his agent and beg to reschedule?

b) Take the meeting and excuse yourself as soon as possible?

c) Sign him to a deal sight unseen because you want to prove that you can make sound executive decisions despite the fact that you're delirious from too much work and too many trips to the whiskey flask hidden in the file room? Besides, accordions are "edgy."

11. Your department is expanding and you have to hire a new executive. Do you choose...
a) The hard-working department assistant who has proven herself bright and capable?

b) The smart and creative up-and-comer from a rival studio?

c) The CEO's wife's personal assistant-in-charge-of-poodle-care?

12. Your boss is on vacation. Do you use your time to...
a) Compile daily development updates and fax them to his hotel?

b) Check on every project on the slate and keep careful tabs on their progress?

c) Sleep late and throw nightly keggers in his office paid for out of the petty cash fund, resulting in the need to hock his prized comic book collection to cover your crime?

13. You've been invited to write an article for a prominent trade magazine. Do you...
a) Spend weeks interviewing the top professionals in your field in order to produce a comprehensive report on The State of the Art of Animation?

b) Write a lengthy tome contemplating the history of animation and discussing the philosophical and stylistic differences between McLaren and McCay?

c) Wait until the last day and then spend the final hours imploring your assistant to make six separate trips to Starbucks for the necessary caffeine and cursing the name of the editor who agreed to give you the assignment in the first place?

So, how'd you score?

If you chose mostly A's: Congratulations, you'll make a great animation executive!

If you chose mostly B's: Get your resume ready, kid! You'll do a fine job!

If you chose any C's: Forget about it, pal - this town isn't big enough for two of us!

Cori Stern is a happy but twisted development executive at Saban Entertainment. Her past experience includes pond diving for golf balls, writing musical comedies, and serving as the CEO's wife's personal-assistant-in-charge-of-poodle-care. She thanks her very funny husband Doug for contributing a few good punchlines. (He's an animation writer - hire him!)Comments and bon mots can be e-mailed to Cori (and her husband) at

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